Flexible Fitness

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”                -Tom Robbins Flexibility is a major component in your overall fitness. I mean this in the literal sense of being able to move joints and muscles through their full range of motion, but also in the way of rolling with the punches that life throws at you and even throwing some right back! You must have a flexible body and flexible mind in order to achieve your ultimate fitness goals. FLEXY FACTS Warm it up      You should always warm up your body with five to ten minutes of light to moderate cardio before stretching. This will insure that your muscles are warm and pliable. I tell my clients to think of their muscles as rubber bands; if it is cold it will snap and if it’s warm it will stretch. Do it daily       Stretching should be a daily activity. Just like weight training, if you don’t keep it up you will lose the progress you have gained. I recommend stretching 10-12 minutes daily. On the ground in front of the TV is a great way to sneak it in. No Bouncing   Do not bounce when you stretch. This type of stretching is called ballistic stretching and can compromise your joints and cause microtrauma in your muscles. Always move slowly into a stretch until you feel a mild discomfort and hold for a count of 15-30 seconds, this is called static stretching. When & How   When to stretch? It is important to warm up your muscles before jumping into any workout and dynamic stretching before training can help prepare your muscles for specific movements while static stretching will benefit you most after a workout to lengthen your muscles. Set Goals        Set stretching goals. Each time you stretch you should see your fingers reaching a little further towards your toes; able to bend a little further backwards, to the side or overhead. Always encourage yourself to push a little further than last time. Life is not predictable and therefore neither will be your fitness program. There will be days the alarm doesn’t go off for your 5am workout, you catch a cold when you are supposed to meet a friend at the gym, or it rains on the day of your planned hike… life happens. It’s not the circumstance you are put in that tests your determination; it’s what you do with the situation that proves how dedicated you are. Below are some tips on how to take the time you have and make the best of it while staying fit. FLEXIBLE MOTIVES Plan B  Always have a backup plan. It is bound to happen at least once a week, something squeezes its way into your workout schedule and your cardio commitment is left in the dust. Have a backup plan for these types of circumstances, whether it’s a workout video you have at home, a mini body weight routine you can do in your living room, or jogging around the block when you have an extra 15 minutes throughout the day. Be Prepared    Print out several workout schedules to have at hand. Your gym’s yoga or kickboxing class, a local hiking group’s calendar or your workout buddy’s available time to train. When your plans fall through, you are bound to find something that will work while spicing up your routine at the same time. Break it up      If your day planner is riddled with tasks and obligations that leave breaks scattered throughout the day not giving you enough time for your daily fitness routine, break it up into bite size pieces. A 15 minute run in the morning, squats and lunges on your lunch break, and a 20 minute upper body routine with weights at home at the end of the day will get the job done. There is no need to do your training all at once and some studies have shown that breaking up your routine can actually provide more benefit. Baby Steps      If you absolutely cannot get to the gym nor have a free hour in the day to get your workout on, don’t surrender. Add little “fitness snacks” into your day like taking the stairs, parking further from your destination, doing heel raises while brushing your teeth or doing pushups and crunches when you have an extra five minutes. The calories burn adds up and you won’t feel guilty for giving up. Move Forward       Then there are days when you just don’t feel like working out, and you don’t. Tomorrow   is a new day! Jump right back on the horse without skipping a beat. Simply move forward without looking back.   In Health and Happiness, Lauren McBride

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